MENTAL HEALTH

JayMac: What do you think is driving the soaring suicide rate?

Jun 20, 2019, 7:45 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 2:46 pm

DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

The U.S. suicide rate in 2017 was 33% higher than in 1999, new research finds. Utah had the fifth-highest overall suicide rate at 25.2 per 100,000, a 46.5 percent increase in residents taking their own lives since 1999. The research from the CDC noted that America’s suicide rates are at the highest level since World War II. Nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the U.S. in 2016 — more than twice the number of homicides — making it the 10th leading cause of death.

Yet, in many areas, our lives seem to be getting better. Current crime rates in the U.S. are approximately the same as those of the 1960s  — half a century ago. Drunken driving rates are also down. So are U.S. divorce and teen pregnancy rates.

Why, then, are suicide rates climbing? I think the internet and social media play a big role in suicides.

“The rise of social media and people connecting more online is not a sufficient replacement for face-to-face communication and connection, which is really critical to overall health,” said Kim Myers, Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Utah Department of Human Services.

A person can isolate themselves in a cyber-cocoon, a kind of self-sequestration. All of the stabilizing forces of interactions with others in the physical world disappear in isolation. Social-media interaction with another is not even close to resembling a real-world conversation with another human on Planet Earth. Think non-verbal cues of communications. You can’t chuckle simultaneously with “a friend” on Facebook. Digital isolation creates more of the same, and before you realize it, you’ve cut yourself from the real, physical world — you know, the place where clouds drift and flowers bloom. And then. . . you believe you’re the only one facing this problem or that trauma.

“When your brain tells you, ‘You’d be better off dead’ that is a sign to get help,” Myers said, just as much as when your arm is broken and dangling, that that is also a sign you need to get help. “We want to create a social norm that the normal thing to do is to get help, to get rid of the stigma around it.”

Fearlessly honest

Trust me, I have been in that place, and I decided there was only one way out. I planned how I was going to do it. The world would be a better place without JayMac in it.

I had done some dumb things. And when my wife and children found out, they wouldn’t stand by me and that would be it. I didn’t want to face it.  But an amazing thing happened; before I could do it, the truth came out. And they stood with me.

Suddenly, I wasn’t fighting it alone; I had people on my side, whom I had thought in my delusion would turn on me.

I know that if you’re in that place, this may seem strange, but the truth is, talking to a stranger can help. As I’ve have shared my story over the years, someone has always reached out to me to say: I’m in that place now; I’m fighting that battle right now.

Just the fact that I texted them back changed everything. They knew, maybe for the first time, that someone outside of themselves cared. I don’t share this to say I’ve done a great thing.  But just one person reaching out to say I know your battle — that is enough to save a life.

If someone you care about is fighting a battle, please, please don’t tell them to pick themselves up, to pull up their bootstraps.

I was that dad. When one of my children said they were struggling, I said, “Pull yourself up, you’re not struggling. Learn how to cope.” I felt horrific, and I would never do it again. I sent a message that I am not available when you need help. But I’ve learned.

Listen, ask questions, take it seriously, be someone who cares, help them find the help they need. If we could just do that, we could save a life.

I want to end by saying if you are in a bad place, pick up the phone because I swear it will make a huge difference. Trust me.

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Mental Health

Vehicles pass by a sign showing solidarity amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Murray on Sunday, April 12...

Heather Peterson

Youth mental health in Utah improving, post-pandemic

The latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 37% of respondents reported feeling so sad or hopeless that they changed their usual activities.

7 days ago

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

Tips for booking your next vacation

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Claire Newell, Founder of Travel Best Bets, to learn her tips on booking a great vacation.

11 days ago

Demonstrators in support of trans rights gathered outside the Utah Capitol in early 2024. (Aimee Co...

Aimee Cobabe

High court decision may impact transgender-related medical treatment for Utah minors

The Supreme Court will hear a Tennessee case arguing that a ban on all medical treatments prescribed to help minors transition is unconstitutional.

23 days ago

The new ABS Kids center in Ogden will provide therapeutic services to children with autism in Utah....

Britt Johnson and Emma Keddington

Autism rates are surging in Utah, new treatment center to open in Ogden

1 in 36 children are diagnosed with autism in Utah. ABS Kids, a therapeutic center, is adding an Ogden location to keep up with treatment demand.

24 days ago

Katy Welkie, vice president of Intermountain and CEO of Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital, ...

Eric Cabrera, Amie Schaeffer

Intermountain Health to open behavioral health center in Taylorsville

Intermountain Health is expanding its behavioral health services. A new center for children and teens will open in Taylorsville in 2025.

1 month ago

(Canva)...

Heather Peterson

Program connects those who struggle with mental health to employers

One Utah program is working to connect those who have struggled with mental health illness with jobs. Then, it helps them stay employed.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

JayMac: What do you think is driving the soaring suicide rate?